Beyond the Public Art Machine: a Critical Examination of Street Art as Public Art

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This article examines street art as a specific type of public art. With Patricia C. Phillips’ idea of the failing “public art machine” as a point of departure, it contextualises the discussion of public art as a phenomenon that goes beyond sanctioned artistic expressions. The article examines the characteristics of street art and demonstrates that street art and public artworks have a number of traits in common. However, it is argued that street art’s unsanctioned nature functions as an essential carrier of meaning, and that a practical separation must be upheld between street art and the sphere of commissioned public art in order to preserve street art’s particular qualities. This argument finds support in the experiences derived from the practical inclusion of street art in other institutional contexts (galleries and museums), which arguably has led to a loss of meaning. However, while it is argued that street art must remain practically separate from the public art machine in order to retain its unsanctioned nature, the article contends that on a theoretical level it is fruitful to think of street art as a specific type of public art. Such a shift in discourse can open up the field of public art theory and provide new and interesting perspectives on public art as an art form which is not failing, but truly engages with the public.


Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Konstvetenskap


Sidor (från-till)63-80
TidskriftKonsthistorisk Tidskrift
Utgåva nummer2
StatusPublished - 2013
Peer review utfördJa

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Peter Bengtsen


Projekt: Avhandling

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Relaterade aktiviteter

Bengtsen, P. (Gästföreläsare)
2012 nov 28

Aktivitet: Besök vid en extern institutionForskning eller undervisning vid extern organisation

Bengtsen, P. (presentatör)
2012 nov 15

Aktivitet: Deltagit i eller arrangerat evenemangDeltagit i workshop/ seminarium/ kurs

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